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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Different tunings

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janolov - Posted - 09/03/2008:  05:37:13

My main instrument is clawhammer and old-time banjo. I am used to use about 7 - 8 different tunings on the banjo (not counting the capod variants), plus about further 4-5 tunings that I use occasionally. When I try to transfer tunes from clawhammer to guitar I find it natural to also transfer the banjo tuning.

Am I on wrong track with all these tunings? Should I try to transfer everything to standard tuning?
How many of you use several different tunings?

Lost time is never found again

dlight - Posted - 09/03/2008:  06:10:17

I have a Fender 12-string cutaway that is permanently tuned in DADGAD. It's very useful for a lot of celtic-based folk material. I also use Open G tuning for a few pieces, but I normally use the Martin D-35 for that, rather than monkey with the Fender! I've used Vestapol (Drop D) tuning since my high school days, and I still do on occasion.

Practice makes perfect, but nobody''s perfect, so why bother??

Alexpnorton - Posted - 09/03/2008:  10:47:16

Jan ,I am a banjo guy also , I find standard tuning on the flatop does complement banjo in all the usual tunings, but I do have one six string I tune to low and open D and capo to the singing key .I have tuned a guitar to some banjo tuning with poor result except for GBDGBD and slideing around with a bottleneck . some exaamples are on my music here on Reso guitar hangout, good luck, steve.


pastorharry - Posted - 09/03/2008:  18:57:55

No right or wrong in my book. I use
drop d
open g(taro patch)
open d
ddddad (Stills tuning
eeeebe (Palmer tuning)
double c
sawmill g

Aloha, PH

Isaiah 38:20

Edited by - pastorharry on 09/03/2008 19:01:02

TonyH - Posted - 09/04/2008:  05:21:14

exactly, there is no rigth or wrong. Try new things. I use alot of open tunings and then some wild Joni Mitchell and David Crosby tunings as well. But for flatpicking leads and such, i use the standard tuning. Just because that is what i have learned and my fingers just know where to go.

pastorharry - Posted - 09/04/2008:  15:36:57

Right Tony, I consider most alternate tunings,(except for drop D), to be used primarily in fingerstyle play. In bluegrass picking pretty much standard is standard.

Isaiah 38:20

janolov - Posted - 09/04/2008:  23:10:08

I put the initial question because I was working with some Clawhammer tunes in double D and open D and since I am familiar with those tunings on the banjo, I found it easier to begin with the corresponding guitar tuning, than to turn it to standard tuning. When learning new tunes I prefer standard tuning.

I have also found that when I am using the banjo tuning I play more notes by hammer-on and pull-off than in the standard tuning.

Lost time is never found again

TonyH - Posted - 09/05/2008:  04:36:34

That is a cool way of learning tunes. then if you ever play with 2 guitars, one can play standard and one can play open tuning.. i like that.

Pastor Harry, for fingerstyle and slide.. bottleneck guitar uses open tunings to get those nice ringy resonant notes

musekatcher - Posted - 09/05/2008:  08:55:21

I've heard there's some evidence that drop D may pre-date EADGBE for guitar, anyone have anymore on that? I tried it once as a means to back up Irish fiddlers, but it required more reach than I wanted to fool with. Also, as an analogy to openback banjo tunings, there's a "Drop G" tuning which is DGDGBE I just found out about. I do openback banjo, so I'm intriqued, as its very similar to a G9 sound, similar to the C9 used on banjo. As for DADGAD, I thought it was a bit limited. Its great at first, but after a while, all the extended and sustained chords start getting monotonous. Maybe I need to listen to better practicioners. Stephen Stills' EBEEBE tuning on Suite Judy Blue Eyes really worked on that piece. Very flattering on acoustic guitar.

Jim Holland
Athens, AL

Old Martins - Posted - 09/05/2008:  18:58:28

I learned DADF#AD when I took lessons form Bob Baxter a long time ago. It works well with a glass slide as well.


tocotodo - Posted - 09/06/2008:  19:13:08

This is my opinion and philosophy and I do not expect anyone to agree with me.

For me, alternate tunings make it very easy to play chords that I don't want to play anyway. I haven't run out of possibilities with standard tuning yet.

twangtown - Posted - 09/06/2008:  19:39:29

I do a version of Jerusalem Ridge that I tune EADGBbD, capo 2 and crosspick. Martin Simpson has a great arrangement of "Wondrous Love" that is tuned DADGAC...a great modal tuning for guitar. Sometimes an altered tuning can give new life to a tune.

"Live and learn...die and forget it all"

Jim Yates - Posted - 09/10/2008:  09:03:49

I have an old Yamaha strung up to Nashville tuning using the high courses of a twelve string set.
I also like to use a Shubb capo on the first five strings at the second fret to play in E. It's the same effect as drop D, but you don't have to alter your chord shapes.


Edited by - Jim Yates on 09/10/2008 12:11:56

Chadtheguru - Posted - 09/10/2008:  12:27:07

Originally posted by twangtown

I do a version of Jerusalem Ridge that I tune EADGBbD, capo 2 and crosspick.

I'd love to hear that sometime. Upload!


Alexpnorton - Posted - 09/10/2008:  19:39:05

well, Ok I too write songs in Double C @ double D I use A flatop tuneded to open C or D and travis pick to support my lead instrument the clawhammer banjo. this with vocals works well for me. I am alone in this approach and do not fit easily into a catagorys. So I upload to Bho, Fho, And Rho and find friends in all these catagories. check out JIm Yates He is in a similar space. The answer is your style is yours and finding where you fit is the challange . Good luck sailor you will prevail


gutbucket - Posted - 09/11/2008:  06:32:03

I love open C tuning. Robin Bullock plays a great version of Shenandoah in that tuning.

Not all who wander are lost. Some are just a tad bit confused.

Laurence Diehl - Posted - 09/25/2008:  08:28:06

I thought DADGAD was limited too until I heard Laurence Juber play (sorry - he's a fingerpicker so I probably shouldn't mention him) But my point is that it is possible to make alternative tunings really work for you and it is a refreshing challenge to get out of standard tuning sometimes. I would do it more often, but I'm too lazy



deleuran - Posted - 10/04/2008:  06:52:25

It is a well known fact that the strings get tired very fast if you retune the guitar very often, so I have recently bought a Shubb partial capo C7b which covers only three strings. If you put it on the third, fourth and fifth string on the second fret you get a DADGAD tuning, only it's a step up to E.
Very nice sounds it can, make and without any retuning. If you use it in combination with a regular capo, you can move it up the fretboard and get different keys very easily.
Placed upside down, covering the second, third and fourth strings on the second fret, you get an open A. This too can off course be moved up the fret together with a regular capo.

I am new to this thing, but very interested to learn new tricks I can do with it, so if any of you have any experience with this I'll be happy to hear about it. I am especially interested in widening my repetoire of chords in the DADGAD tuning.

Deleuran "Toons & tunes"
"Old time all the time"

Piotr - Posted - 10/04/2008:  09:13:16

About 40 years ago I tried open D and open G, fingerpicking. I even wrote a song in G tuning, which works even better as a banjo tune. I can't play it! My technique, henc my timing, is too poor. Today I no longer use any of these open tunings; they're too special, and I can't think of any more versatile and natural tuning than standard, which I think of as an em7 tuning. It has the enormous advantage of a 7th interval between strings 6,4 and 5,3; along with the triad tuning of the top three strings, allowing for chords with closer voicings in the upper register.
Also there's the advantage of not favoring any particular key.

Really, if I were to try out alternative tunings today I would try closer tunings, analogous to those used on the steel guitar (C6, E13) - invented to allow a great variety of chord forms without slanting the bar. But a steel guitar has several necks and rarely fewer than 8 strings on each. Tuning in 3rds would diminish the range in any given position; it might also affect top tension, hence the tone of the guitar.

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